Spalletti says Milan play ‘total, modern football’ and calls Pioli ‘a great coach’

By Euan Burns -

Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti has said that AC Milan play a modern style of football which he puts down to the quality of Stefano Pioli as coach. 

The Partenopei boss was speaking to the media (via Milan News) at his press conference in Monday night ahead of the Champions League quarter-final second leg.

The first leg ended 1-0 to Milan at the San Siro which means that Spalletti’s side have got a job to do if they are to make it into the semi-final where they would face either Inter or Benfica.

When Spalletti was asked about who will replace the suspended Kim Min-Jae and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa for the match at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, it led to him heaping praise upon Milan and Pioli’s work.

“Juan Jesus is ready to play this competition. [Tanguy] Ndombele doesn’t have a lot of minutes, [Eljif] Elmas has more offensive characteristics and isn’t one to work at all as a structured midfielder. There is more to be gained from these absentees with Osimhen back,” Spalletti began.

“Milan play total, modern football. Pioli is a great coach and he showed us this: last year he deservedly won the championship and they can change 10 players and still put in a great performance.”

Given Napoli have been so good this season but have faltered in the last couple of weeks, Spalletti was asked if the quality of the team is already in the history books.

“It remains to be seen. Being in the Champions League, at this point, is already something important. We want to go ahead, we want to win, so we will play to win, without making too many calculations and maintaining balance. Then we’ll see where we are at the end. To stand here and defend what has happened so far is to not believe we can do more, instead we believe we can do more. There is no risk in tomorrow’s game, we risk endless happiness. If we win we will go even further,” he said.

What needs fixing for Napoli?

“There are things to fix, having played twice in such a short time there are more details to fix. We have to find adjustments to things that can happen within the game, like these restarts on which Milan have different qualities compared to other teams. They have physicality, engine, and technique. They have quality with the goalkeeper who acts as a defensive director. Attention to detail and focus is what will put us in a position to be better than them. We are not happy about going out, we will only be happy if we pass the round. We must do as we did in the first leg.”

How will Napoli progress?

“We only create important situations if we put in a high-level performance, finding spaces and getting into them as quickly as possible. We are good at ball possession, we have to play football; it is difficult to find the shot alone if this shot does not come from the team. I think that will also be the case tomorrow night. The team deserves to put in a good performance.”

What did you prepare for?

“We tried to prepare for everyone. There are absentees, partly because they happened and partly because they were imposed on us, so you have to think about all of them. As for the penalties, we rehearsed them; you make a list according to the number of the shot to be taken: in our opinion the best ones have to shoot first.”

Do Napoli lack experience?

“We have gained experience. We have played so many games in the Champions League, showing character on so many pitches. Why should it be different now? We are probably talking at club level and in terms of importance, and we probably paid something there. This level of football and competition is an award for the players, for what has been the work produced so far. An award for the city for all the affection it has for these players. And we will have to give everything.”

Will Napoli try to play football?

“We have that in our DNA: playing football, catching them high, pressing, because in my opinion you find advantages. It’s the performance that will determine how mature we are to go up against a team like AC Milan: they have all the qualities to turn the game around, with technique, volleys, and the ability to put you in the box. You have to know how to do everything.”

How much will Napoli change with Osimhen?

“We have a squad that has got us this far. You can’t have such a clear edge in the league if those who have played less aren’t level. In the 15 days before AC Milan we only had five players and you lose a bit of the habit in training of doing what you have to do.”

For the first time, Leao and Osimhen will play each other

“They are two footballers who are similar in some ways because they have the ability to solve situations in the match by themselves. They both have physique, probably both from the point of view of technique in tight situations still have something to improve. It would be nice to have them both available.”

Tags AC Milan Luciano Spalletti Napoli


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